Kerala airports see passengers protest against AI Express' last minute cancellations

Protests by irate passengers were witnessed at all airports in Kerala on Wednesday against the last minute cancellation of their Air India Express flights.
Air India Express flight
Air India Express flight

Kochi/Kannur | Protests by irate passengers were witnessed at all airports in Kerala on Wednesday against the last minute cancellation of their Air India Express flights.

Passengers, mostly travelling to the Gulf nations, claimed that they were informed about the flight cancellations after they completed their security check and were waiting to board the flight.

While Air India Express has offered a full refund or complimentary rescheduling to another date, passengers are not happy with that.

Many of them claimed that they could lose their jobs if they do not reach their place of work today, while some others' work visas are about to expire.

One woman, who was to travel from Kannur to Sharjah with twin babies and her husband, said she has to rejoin work on May 9, but Air India Express was offering her a flight from Kochi only on May 10.

"What would be the point in me travelling on May 10? If I do not reach there before May 9, my boss will say not to come and I will lose my job," she told media.

Similar concerns were aired by many others who have to rejoin their places of work in the Gulf nations today or tomorrow and failure to do so could result in them losing their jobs.

The woman also said that she had been waiting at the airport since Tuesday night, when her flight was scheduled to leave for Sharjah, but no accommodation or other facilities were provided to them by the airline.

Another woman, who had booked tickets on Air India Express to meet her husband who is hospitalised in Muscat, said that she was told about the cancellation only when she reached the Kannur airport in the morning.

One man who had to travel urgently to Sharjah on Tuesday night from Kannur, did not wait to cancel the ticket and instead quickly bought a ticket on Indigo for Rs 37,000.

"There is a fight going on at the ticket counter. So, I quickly bought a ticket on Indigo for Rs 37,000," he said.

Similar scenes of irate passengers, some travelling with small children, were seen at Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram airports in the state.

Air India Express has cancelled "scores of flights" due to a shortage of cabin crew members as a section of them are reporting sick to protest against alleged mismanagement at the Tata Group-owned airline, according to sources.

Discontent has been brewing among a section of the cabin crew at the low-cost carrier for some time now, especially after the start of the process of merger of AIX Connect, formerly AirAsia India, with itself.

The sources on Wednesday said several cabin crew members started reporting sick since Monday evening and as there are not enough cabin crew members, "scores of flights" have been cancelled at various airports, including Kochi, Calicut and Kannur.

Later the airline, in a statement, said, "A section of our cabin crew has reported sick at the last minute, starting last night, resulting in flight delays and cancellations.

"While we are engaging with the crew to understand the reasons behind these occurrences, our teams are actively addressing this issue to minimise any inconvenience caused to our guests as a result." The airline, in its statement, sincerely apologised to passengers for this unexpected disruption and emphasised that this situation does not reflect the standard of service it strives to provide.

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